not all those who wander are lost

Albert Kahn’s Burton Memorial Tower, which contains the Charles Baird Carillon

Here is a photo of the hoisting of the “bourdon bell” – the heaviest of the entire collection.

From the University of Michigan website:

Burton Memorial Tower

  • 212 feet tall
  • 41 feet x 7 inches square
  • 19,848 square feet of floor space
  • Designed by Albert Kahn
  • Final cost = $243,664.61
  • Recent renovation = $1.8 million
  • Construction: reinforced concrete shell faced with limestone (1935–1936)
  • Dedicated Dec. 4, 1936
  • Named for U-M President Marion Leroy Burton (Presidency 1920–1925)
  • Charles Baird Carillon

  • Mounted atop the Burton Memorial Tower
  • Tied for fourth heaviest carillon in the world
  • 55 bells cast in 1936 and 1975 (total weight 43 tons)
  • Largest bell: 12 tons; it strikes the hour
  • Smallest bell: 16.5 pounds
  • Bells hang 120 feet above campus
  • Bells are stationary—only the clappers move via mechanical linkage
  • Bells cast in Loughborough, England, by John Taylor and Co. Bellfoundry
  • Carillon donated by Charles M. Baird, U-M graduate, lawyer and U-M’s first athletic director
  • In 1935–1936 when Burton Tower was erected, pulleys were used to raise buckets of concrete, other construction materials and the carillon’s bells.

    This structure is not just a clock tower, it is also a musical instrument. It is also a fully functioning skyscraper with classrooms for the music department inside.

    5 Responses to Burton Memorial Tower

    • hahahahahahaha !

      Yeah – but lack of concern for my hearing after playing guitar for 30 + years has left the ears a little tender.

      Ear muffs or no – standing next to those bells with those soundwaves blasting through your skull couldnt be good for the tinnitus. You could go home with that bourdon bell ringing in your ears for ever.

    • The bourdon bell is rung on the hour, typical Westminster type chimes on the quarter hour.

      But playing the carillon is different than the automatic songs that the tower plays. Im going to look into the Burton schedule to see if I cant get somebody to take me inside that bad boy.

    • Beautiful. Are all the bells rung regularly or only on special occasions?

    • I have not been lucky enough to be at either tower when they have visitors up to the carillon. I know Lurie is open on school days between certain hours, you can go up and watch the carillon go off – but they caution you on the volume levels.

      So thats the only thing that makes me hesitate. I am a musician, so Im curious of course – but for the same reason I am concerned about injuring my hearing in any way.

    • Will you be able to get inside to show how the tower is also a musical instrument ?

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